Below is a recent article from GLOBAL SISTERS REPORT (www.globalsistersreport.org)
Reconfiguring my discipleship
by Julia Walsh
The sisters and I are finished with eating our dinner, but remain seated at the table. I am sharing from a vulnerable place, telling a story about my struggles, growth and the challenge of being a healthy and balanced human. Then, our conversation is interrupted by a strange, loud squawking noise coming from the top of one of the tall pines on the nearby lakeshore. Together, we jump up from the table, a mix of curiosity and concern moving us outward.
The youngest and the quickest, I am the first to make my way to the end of the dock and turn my gaze upward to the treetops. There, I see two giant birds on neighboring branches. One is a mix of brown and white, a hawk; the other black and white with a golden beak, an eagle. The hawk is the one screaming, yelling at the eagle like a human toddler claiming its toy, its territory: “Mine! Mine!”
From my vantage point, the eagle seems to be staring at the other. Perhaps glaring. Possibly stubborn. Definitely quiet and bold. The deafening hawk continues screaming, unfazed by the humans crowding on the shore and staring upward at the spectacle. Eventually, the birds take flight, the eagle first going in one direction and then the hawk in the other. As they go, the only sound heard is the movement of their expansive wings moving through the air. With wonder all over our faces, the sisters and I head back to our home, to our dining table, and to tasks of washing dishes and praying together — our shared life.
When my heart aches because of the scandals of the church, I think of those powerful birds having a territorial fight in the treetops and the way that my housemates and I continued onward with our lives. The birds squabbled and fought, they towered over us little sisters gaping upward, unfazed by our presence and power. Quieter than the birds, we tended to the mundane and sacred matters of our humanity: community building, cleaning things up, steadfast prayer and devotion to Christ. We remained small and calm.
I never before thought the division in my beloved church would get so bad that some bishops would be asking for my beloved pope’s resignation; such a circumstance was unimaginable less than six years ago when loyalty to the Holy Father was the mark of a good Catholic. The allegations toward Pope Francis by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò cannot be Spirit-led — although the Holy Spirit can be fiery, its glow is always mercy and hope. The division made manifest by this act of sinful use of power ought to be seen as an attack on the Body of Christ, as a gaping wound cut close to its heart.
The heartache of scandals and infighting is dizzying, confusing, painful. Not long ago, I felt the hurt so deeply that my prayer life spiraled into a place of frustration, a tunnel of confusion leading to collapse. I wasn’t sure how to be a Franciscan Sister anymore, how to be a public face of the church. I felt paralyzed by the pain.
I went away on a retreat and silenced the news of scandals of heartache so I could reconfigure my discipleship, so I could reimagine what it means to be a woman of the church. Within hours of my arrival, I found myself returning my gaze to Jesus — and ignoring arguments from treetops and towers. With my gaze turned back to Christ, I was quickly healed and gained much strength and peace.
In the past, certain injustices and encounters of human suffering in church and society have compelled me to raise my voice, my angry fist, my megaphone. When it comes to the current corruption of the church that I have dedicated my life to, however, the call of this moment is different. Now I want to remember my minority, not my might.
I have grown convinced that the broken ones need us sisters to be companions holding them in their pain, offering shoulders to sob on and sanctuaries for expressing their anger. By the offering of our feminine energy we can tend to the heart of Christ who is beaten and bloody in our midst; we can be instruments of healing, peace and strength.
When I think of those birds having a territorial fight in the treetops and the scandals of this time, I am reminded of the human tendency to build and destroy, to lift up and tear down. Construction and destruction have been our pattern since before there was an Incarnation, since the days when borders were blurred. And in this hard and sacred time, during this era of disillusionment and crumbling institutions, we are invited to reconfigure who we are and how we are in relation with every living being around us.
The wildness of creatures around us — whether it is beasts screaming at others, the might of predators, the interruptions of the loud cries — can cause us to naturally feel our smallness, as we ought. The birds squabbling in the tree helped me understand that I am a daily visitor to the habitat of several species.
This sacred time that we are in now together may be crammed with challenge, but we have no need to despair. When I was with Jesus in the quiet of my retreat, my concern for the sorrows of church and society didn’t decrease, but my trust in Jesus increased. Christ’s love and power are bigger than any human-made heartache, failure or sin. Christ is redeeming and healing the splits near his heart, the divides over territory. Jesus is showing us all that there is enough for everyone. And we are called to quietly aid and assist in this mission of compassion, to embrace the sacredness of smallness. This is a path to peace.
[Now on staff at Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center in northern Wisconsin, Julia Walsh is a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, a Catholic youth minister, a committed social justice activist, and a graduate of Catholic Theological Union. Her award-winning writing has appeared in America, Global Sisters Report, Living Faith, and PILGRIM Journal. Visit her online at messyjesusbusiness.com and follow her on Twitter @juliafspa.]
From Argentina Vicky Nagel and her two sons Lihueel and Hector were chosen and sponsored to participate in this international event, they sent us the following response on their return to Argentina:
We left Argentina to come to Ireland with lots of expectations and fears. It was Lihueel’s and Hector’s first flight, we had little English and we doubted that we would be good representatives at this international meeting of families.
We were lovingly received at the airport by Sisters Elisabeth and Caitriona. Sr Liz had booked our accommodation and our participation at the Congress, so, everything was ready for us, even to the tiniest detail.
We have brought back from Ireland :
• The special moments we lived with the Sisters and with the Dennis family from South Africa, John, Kelly, Dayna and Gizelle.
• The trips with Srs. Elisabeth, Caitriona and Liz
• The scenery and the green landscape so typical of Ireland
• The learnings from the workshops we chose to attend:
Lectio Divino in the home,
Dignity and Security in a digital era
The vocation of a leader in the workplace,
The transmission of faith from one generation to the next,
The role of grandparents,
Trafficking of people,
Sport, faith and family,
The development and testimony of leadership and women,
Accompanying human fragility
The family that prays together.
The presence of Pope Francis in the festival of families and the Mass in the Phoenix Park also touched our heats and fed our minds and spirits.
It was very emotional to meet Sisters Sheila, Mary and Kathleen in St. Mary’s in Cabra and share news of our communities with them while recalling past lived experiences. It was good to feel the affection that exists between us despite the distance.
Our eyes and souls are filled with images of Cabra and its history.
The grace of being able to meet our dear friend Bro. Jim and bring him the love and gratitude of the communities where he ministered was indeed very special.
We got great joy from sharing as family, we laughed a lot and learned how to manage in English! It was an unforgettable experience; the climate, the scenery which we enjoyed, the humanity of the people and the friendship with the Dennis family will remain with us forever.
Thank you to all of the Sisters, those in Argentina who accompanied and supported us prior to our visit and all those who embraced us through their loving care in Ireland. We never felt alone.
The challenge and commitment now for us as family is to multiply all we have learned, firstly, in our own large family and later in all of the spaces where we participate.
We thank the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Catherine of Siena, Cabra for all we have received, for the affection, attention to detail and so much more, so that we could feel at home and be free to get around and relate to so many others.
May God bless you.
May God guard you in the palm of his hand.
May Dominic guide you on your way.
May Saints Rose and Martin de Porres
journey with you.
My the Virgin cover you with her mantle.
With sincere thanks and every blessing,
Vicky, Lihueel and Hector.
Pope Francis is shown a maté cup from his native country.
Pope Francis responds generously by gifting us with the yerba (maté herb) to prepare the tea, a gift shared with many, some of the yerba even found its way back to Argentina!
Saturday 29th September,2018 Renehan Hall, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth
Welcome Café will be part of a festival in Smithfield on Saturday 15th September in the Third Space Café
please come in and say hello ! (Third Space Smithfield. Unit 14 Block C, Smithfield Markets, Smithfield, Dublin 7, D07 P440)
You may be interested in this concert coming up next week In the Little Museum of Dublin.
And we will be back to our first regular Welcome Café of the season on Tuesday 25th September more details to follow soon.
Welcome Café: We aim to create a space of welcome to celebrate diversity and intercultural exchange. We want to give a platform to individuals, groups and organisations who share similar values. We want to give voice and visibility to the diverse peoples who now are resident in Ireland
THE JOY OF LOVE – AMORIS LAETITIA
An experience of a lifetime!
The Dennis family from South Africa recount their experience of attending the World Meeting of Families 21-26 August 2018
We left Port Elizabeth, South Africa on Saturday, 18 August 2018 and arrived in Dublin, Ireland on 19 August. Our pilgrimage had begun. Sister Geraldine Marie had come to meet us at the airport and drove us to All Hallows College. We settled in and explored the grounds and surroundings.
Galway played Limerick on the day we arrived at Croke Park. It sounded as though the stadium was right next-door to us. Meeting some of the passing spectators, we could sense the jubilation in all the Limerick supporters and the disappointment in the supporters from Galway.
The following morning we joined Vicky, Lihueel and Hector, our Argentinian family from Buenos Aires for an excursion in Dublin and Wicklow. What a learning experience it was communicating, but we got along just fine!
Sister Liz came to collect us on our first day and we were off to have morning tea with Sisters Elizabeth, Caitronia, Liz and Geraldine Marie.
We then visited the local church of Mt. Argus and after a wonderful tour of the church and monastery, we were off to Wicklow.
Dominican Community Wicklow
Mt. Argus Church
Pope Francis greeted some of our Sisters on Sunday 26th August as he arrived for a meeting with the Bishops at our Convent Chapel in Cabra, following his afternoon Phoenix Park Mass, to conclude the World Meeting of Families.
Sr Elisabeth Healy, Congregation Prioress greeted Pope Francis welcoming him on behalf of the Congregation to Dominican Convent Cabra. She and thanked him for his courage and his words. Pope Francis greeted each sister and asked us to pray the Hail Mary with him. He thanked us for our fidelity and asked that we remember him in our prayers which we assured him we would do.
Members of the local parishes had gathered at both entrances to greet Pope Francis on his arrival and departure to and from the Airport.
A number of our Sisters who had ministered in Argentina greeted the Pope and shared a quick memory re the traditional drink Mate. The Pope requested one of his team to go to his car and then presented our sisters with a packet of Jerba leaves.
Hope House in New Orleans, Louisiana is a non-profit organisation, founded to respond to the hopes and needs of its neighbours and to help create a society in which truth and justice abide. Sr. Lilianne Flavin OP who has been based in Louisiana since 1979 works in Hope House. Click below to read their latest newsletter.
Hope House Journal Summer 2018
Ruhama is a Dublin-based NGO which works on a national level with women affected by prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
See below for their latest newsletter.
On Sunday 12th August, Sr Mairead and Sr Pia celebrated 70 years of their Religious Profession with a special breakfast, Eucharist and lunch at St. Dominic’s Priory Port Elizabeth. We give thanks for our sisters faithful service to their Dominican call.
Below are some photos from the celebrations
Srs Pia, Columbia and Mairead
Sr Mairead cuts her cake
Sr Pia cuts her cake